Teacher's Dedication, Energy Spreads to Students

In Service to Community
Posted on 11/11/2019
Image of Metro Park CleanupSince 2008, Margaret Busker, a science teacher for Akron Public Schools, has been asking her students to give up two Saturday mornings per year to help clean up the city of Akron, and every year they have shown up and made a difference.

The students show up on their own to the Mustill Store, a part of the Cascade Metro Park System, at 9 in the morning. They don gloves, waders and boots, grab many empty trash bags, and walk down to the Little Cuyahoga River.

Akron Enviroscience organizes the event along with the Cascade Metro Parks, and Marty Hilvosky from Enviroscience leads it. Volunteers gather trash ranging from diaper fill and polar pop cups to furniture and car parts -- every bit has been dumped into the river system or washed into it somehow. Prior to the “Big Dig," students were pulling tires out of the hillside which seemed to have been dumped over the side from a neighborhood above. Without the volunteers, the trash and debris would possibly reach Cleveland and Lake Erie.

Margaret and her students always show up. There have been years where Akron Public Schools students are the bulk of the volunteer force for the river clean-up. Busker originally heard of this opportunity via another APS teacher, Rebecca Barnum, who suggested it to her as a cool thing for Busker’s environmental class. That was the spring of 2008, and Mrs. Busker had ONE student show. The two of them worked alongside community members. Since then, Busker has been joined by other teachers here and there and other school groups.

Becca Barnum, Liz Terrill, Rebecca Bettio, Son Chandra and most recently Crystal Dzuro, all from APS, have joined in periodically. When former President Barack Obama offered the “give a day-get a day” opportunity for people to give a day of volunteer service in trade for a ticket at Disney, there were more than 100 volunteers at the clean-up. Needless to say, the river looked great in less than two hours.

Akron Public Schools students have continued to impress the Cascade Metro Park employees and volunteers as well as the Enviroscience employees. Margaret Busker has taught four grade levels in two schools during her 12 years in Akron, and every year her students show up and clean up.

She began her teaching career in Maryland where community service was embedded in the curriculum and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation supported the schools in many ways beyond community service opportunities. Mrs. Busker hopes to bring that same desire to keep local waterways clean to Akron. When students ask, “how did all this stuff get down here?” the answer is always, “it was up there first." Akron Public Schools students have not always been thought of as stewards of their community, but Busker knows otherwise -- her students show up early on a Saturday morning twice a year, sometimes the same day as homecoming or prom, and they work hard for 3+ hours. As people run, walk or bike by them on the Towpath, her students are picking up the discarded water bottles and cigarette butts. She is proud of her young stewards of Akron and the Cuyahoga. Akron Enviroscience and Cascade Metro Parks do a wonderful job organizing this event every fall and spring, and Margaret is grateful to be a part.

Kudos to Margaret and her many student helpers over the years.

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